Starting from the logical path following the capability of displaying complex data sets through sound, it comes later that a gamut of techniques and personalities take the endeavour of translating information into sound. There are several reasons why one would like to sonify data; for instance, the multidimensionality of some data sets are sometimes hard or slow to represent via 2 or 3D visual methods, whereas with sound, one can extend this to many more dimensions; another idea is that the human hearing system is specially sensible to patterns expressed on sound and subtleties of it. By accelerating or delaying the playback rate of the information that is sonified different perceptions of data can unveil perceptions and ideas, maybe giving a whole new perspective to numbers.
Expressing information as sound is a growing sector of the scientific and artistic community, a realm in which these two worlds are bridging, and communities are being formed that deal with this theme. The International Community for Auditory Displays defines Sonification as the use of non-speech audio to convey information (ICAD, 2011), (Sonifyer.org, 2011).
It is worth it to stop and look at the term Auditory Displays first though. Comparing data displaying visually to sonically be a good start: Auditory Displays would be the 2 or 3D counterpart of graphical representation of data, such as graphs of different sorts.
An example of the possibilities of data Sonification lies on the looping of information. That is, the display of some numbers looping on real time, with the user being able to modify parameters on the fly and observe the interaction with the rest of the factors of the system that is analyzed.
Another point, made by Paul Vickers (Vickers, 2004), is that Sonification can be capable of helping us recognize patterns and or behaviors that might not be apparent in a graphical type of representation. This goes into the fact that the sound being reproduced (or produced) can be accelerated, so that vast periods of time can be analyzed by listening to them in a matter of a few seconds.
An interesting work is the one done at the University of Bern, in which the data from seismic sensors has been compacted so that vibrations from 2 days can be heard in 120 seconds, and compressed for the high values to lie on an audible range. The frequencies generated by the phenomena have as well been scaled so that they lie on the audible spectrum. (Sonifyer.org, 2011)
The Geiger counter is one of the most common referenced devices when Sonification is addressed (Walker & Kramer, 2006). It measures radioactivity on the environment and displays the measurement via clicking sounds which density correlates with the amount of radiation perceived.
Further on this chapter:
2.1.1 SONIFICATION DEFINITIONS AND CONCEPTS
2.2.1 ACOUSTICS INVOLVED IN SPATIALIZATION
22.214.171.124 COORDINATES SYSTEM
126.96.36.199 DELAY AND GAIN
188.8.131.52 SOUND ACQUIREMENT
2.2.2 SPATIALIZATION TECHNIQUES
184.108.40.206.1 BASIC FUNCTIONING
220.127.116.11.1 VIMIC MODULES
18.104.22.168.2 OUTPUT MODULES